Today is the feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, apostles with ambiguous storylines and confusingly common names. We celebrate them on a combined feast day because, even though they died at different times and in different locations, their bodies were moved and are buried together in the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Rome. Continue reading
I had been musing about a regular (at least quasi-regular) series of posts for Saturday morning. I have noticed that there has been interest and feedback on posts that deal with some element of Church history. The topic has always been of interest to me, musing about how the broad movements of history affect the Church and how the Church affects the movements of history.
Given that the internet is replete with all manner of information about the events, trends, and characters who contribute to the history of Christianity in the West, I wondered what I might contribute. Certainly on any particular topic, or as a general survey, there are real historians that have better knowledge and are gifted writers, able to make their research accessible and readable. If you have a particular interest, I would recommend looking to the experts, but if you just want to follow along on a Saturday morning, you are most welcomed.
For my part, I continue to be fascinated by the events of the 16th century referred to the the “Protestant Reformation.” You’ll notice that in the title of this post I refer to “reformations.”
I suggest the plural form because there was no single, coherent or cohesive movement that marked the end of a united Christianity in the West. Nor did it begin and take definitive shape when the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the chapel in Wittenburg Castle. The purpose, intention, and final shape of reformed denominations were as varied as the men and women within the movements, the country of origins, the milieu of political alliances and forces in play as the modern nation-states of Europe arose, as well as a myriad of other factors. The reform movement in Germany differed from those in Switzerland, France, England, and the Low Countries. I hope to at least give an introduction to help you understand the popes, people, persecutions and potpourri of the life in a Europe emerging from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance. It is age when the face of western Europe changed as did the unity of Christianity.
If the Reformations did not begin with Martin Luther, then when were the seeds of the events sown? How many years/centuries before? Not even the historians agree. But tune in next Saturday for the first post and you’ll at least discover what is a good starting point.